25.5.06

A victory for France!


We are not used to see the French win.

It seems like the 21st century will be a continuation of the humiliations and blows they received in the previous 100 years.

No, they didn't get the Olympics for 2012, they didn't exist during the last Football Champions League and they were slapped in the face by all other European nations in the Eurovision contest last week... but those are only minor setbacks and France continues collecting the medals that really count.

Take this week, an online survey directed by a Frenchman discovered that:

1. French are the most unfriendly nation people on the planet.

2. French are the most boring and most ungenerous people.

In addition to those findings (the result of a 6000-participants survey), one UK newspaper confirmed that the French stink.

France, if you are number 1, why try harder?

22.5.06

Living football the French way


They don't know how to play, they don't know how win and they don't know how to lose. No matter the subject, or the rivals, the French have demonstrated a historical unability to cope with the preparations, the execution and the outcomes of competition.


Last week, Paris hosted the final of the 2006 Champions League, the sport event of the year in Europe. The two top performers of European football, Barcelona of Spain and Arsenal of the UK showed football at its best.


Although I have as many reasons to support any London club as Barcelona, since I lived happily in both towns, this time I had to support Barcelona since Arsenal's captain is a French and I was fearing some lack of style was Arsenal going to win or lose.


So, there we were, looking for a bar to support Barcelona. We tried to get into the Frog pub, but it was full. We went to several other foreigner-friendly venues and didn't find room. At some point, we thought "what about going to some French cafè or bar and live football the French way??" (I promise, there was no non-French alternative!!!). This is how we landed in one of those corner bars... The venue and its regulars was pathetic: Lone French men and some fat French women sipping ONE beer watching TV. The barman making customers wait because he had to watch the match too and his girlfriend flirting with all the customers since her boy didn't pay any attention to her (well, he didn't pay attention to his customers either!).


At the end, Barcelona won, the customers left and we were overcharged by the French barman (he claimed that a orange juice with ice was a "large" juice and hence price was double: 8.40 Euro... this was the typical run-down French cafè in suburbia!).


The morning after, I read the news and could again validate that the French cannot lose. Contrary to the style and manners portrayed by the entire Arsenal guys after the defeat, the French captain had to talk to remind us that French will never learn to lose.

The BBC gives all the details, but here is a selection of Thierry Henry's reaction:

  • "I was kicked all over the place. I expected the referee to do his job. I don't think he did." (very French, accusing the others if things don't go your way. Henry, next time, PLAY BETTER!).
  • "The Frenchman, who was fuming after the game, also felt Samuel Eto's equaliser should have been disallowed for offside" (yes, yes, yes... nag, nag, nag).
  • "It was always going to be difficult to play Barcelona. But with 10 men that is almost impossible"... but Jens really played dirty and deserved the punishment... "Jens probably deserved to be sent off - there is nothing to be said about that. But in the first half Rafael Marquez and Carles Puyol went right through me and they didn't even get a yellow. Then I got the ball in front of the bench and Mark Van Bommel kicks me and I end up getting a yellow." (yes, yes, yes, Henry, THEY CAUGHT YOU and yes, life is unfair, but they caught you, and I will tell you more, everybody saw that Arsenal committed 4 times more injuries than Barcelona did).
  • Henry also defends himself from the sure-goal ball he got served that he lost: "I tried to do what I could and try and defend and try and bring the ball back and help the team, but if they allow an offside goal it is going to be even more difficult. Everyone was talking about Ronaldinho before the game. I didn't see him today and I didn't see Eto'o" (yes, of course, it was the referee's, the enemy's, the media's fault, we made him lose concentration...).
  • "We can be proud, we can be more than proud, but, I'm sorry, some of the refereeing today was horrendous" (yes, like after WWII, be proud, be proud, be proud of yourselves, keep accusing all the others).
  • However, Henry 'congratulated' Barcelona by saying: "You have to be fair in football - you have to be honest and well done to you if you've won, but you have to win in a good way" (well, Barcelona won in a good way, the referee showed as many Yellow cards as necessary, and you deserved one of them! Don't try to break a leg and you won't get "a yellow").

Anyways, Henry, thanks for that heart-felt congratulation. Those who supported the other team BECAUSE YOU WEREN'T PLAYING WITH THEM, truly appreciate your kindness.

* * *


Yesterday night, Athens hosted the final of the Eurovision (European Song Contest) 2006. Out of 23 countries, France ranked 21st, only above Israel and Malta. I cannot wait to read the news today and how the French interpret this new failure. Who will be responsible this time? The Americans? The jury? The Opus Dei?


The French cannot lose, this is why they don't deserve winning.

16.5.06

Napoleon is back


I missed it!

The most awaited event of the post 2012 Olympic bid and I missed it! I was even invited, some French gave me a flyer!!!

This moment of majesty encountered me the other day on my way to the metro... this fat, bold, unfriendly man handed to me some scrap of paper. Since I thought it would contain some discount vouchers or gossip about polititians' wives, I took it, but to my surprise, it was an invite to join a pro French rally!!!!

Yes! Spread the news, Uranus was invited to join a political demonstration organised by a bunch of people called France Bonapartiste to demand that the French president is more respected in France and that elections are held only every 10 years (since this is the minimum a Napoleon would need to implement far reaching initiatives that would make the imperial eagle return to the French capital). If the Louvre exposed fine pieces of literature and thoughtful political manifestos like this flyer, I am sure they would need to build 4 or 5 more pyramids to cope with the visitors it would attract (thinking about it, Paris doesn't have a caricature museum or a museum of the idiot yet, huh?).

Let me quickly summarise the contents of the flyer:

The problems:
1. Nobody loves the President (no kidding!).
2. The Prime Minister behaves like if he was the Ambassador of the USA.
3. The Home Office secretary joins forces with Islamists to destabilise The Nation.
4. The country is on the verge to insurrection, and people demand a French government.
5. The enemies are: Globalisation and the Chinese.
6. All politicians plot with the Chinese against France.
7. France has to take strength from its grands examples in History (WHAT ARE THEY TALKING ABOUT!!!!!????).

The solutions:
1. That the President rules for 10 years.
2. That polititians are replaced by technocrats.
3. That laws are approved in public referenda.

The political rally was scheduled for May 11th in a bar of Blvd Montparnasse, but I wasn't in town.

Did you go? Do you know when is the next rally?

12.5.06

Paying the bills


I went to their office, to pay my electricity bill. From the outside I could hear the customers yelling and the employees barking. Once I was in, I woke up: No yelling, no barking, just a clean, silent office. There were 5 employees, and 4 customers, still I had to line up... French public companies typically staff their operations so that for each 4 idle employees, one fifth employee has enough work to do. Customers have to wait, the French employee's coffee break and their favourite newspaper have priority.

The offices are quite nice, they are located in prime locations and provide an average area of 100 square metres for each employee, so that they can stretch after reading all those well written French newspapers and invite their friends to a coffee.

Working for a private company, everytime I go to pay my bills, I ask myself: "What if they outsourced all these jobs?"... Yes, I know the coffee break would be shorter and their "vital space" would be reduced to a 2 square metre cubicle, but hey think of the advantages: Courteous and efficient service, lower bills, and a more fulfilling career path for the employees themselves.

I glimpsed some hope when I heard that Italian ENEL wanted to buy French EDF. This could have been a great success story if they had only sold off some central offices and fired the most lazy employees, but then the French government made a move to save the coffee, the newspapers and the customer queues by blocking off the operation.

When is France going to get its share of globalisation?

9.5.06

Your average French neighbour


Here's the political play of the week: One guy who should be in jail for corrupt, in France he is the president. Another guy who never won any election is the PM. And another guy who hates foreigners wants to be the next president. Since the other two guys also want to stay where they are, they feel threatened by the ambitious anti-foreigners candidate. In order to silence him, they give him a secretary job in the cabinet... so that they can spy on him better!!!

Do you think this is the script for a Benny Hill show? No guys, this is happening! France is probably the only country where you are more likely to be spied upon by your colleague, your neighbour or your "friend" than by the enemy!

When you live in Paris for a while, you are not surprised that during WWII, the French utilised the German occupation to get rid of the colleagues, neighbours and anybody else they didn't like.

The problem is that French do not like a lot of people.

2.5.06

A different May Day


May Day, Labour Day: Red flags, placards claiming social justice, fair salaries, rights for the unprotected... Well, not in France.

While a few French went to a demonstration to demand more and better jobs and an enhanced welfare state, the main event was happening on Place dell'Opera, where thousands of followers of anti-immigration leader Le Pen gathered to accuse all foreigners of any past, present and future problem of France, the greatest of all civilisations ever.

The same day that millions of immigrants took with no fear the streets of the main cities of the US of A to show their power and demand civil rights, foreigners in Paris like me were appalled to watch the display of pride of a bunch of racists who had no shame in declaring French civilisation as superior to any other and demanding the deportation of all foreigners.

This is France, ladies and gentleman. Can you imagine such an individual in Germany? In Italy? The French won this award for having "won" WWII?

Recently, a poll found that one third of French are not ashamed of openly recognising that they are racists (imagine the real figure...). See the details at this link: http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/1600698/posts

The International Herald Tribune, Reuters and the NY Times both cover the rally of supporters of Le Pen yesterday:

http://www.iht.com/articles/2006/05/01/news/paris.php
http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20060501/wl_nm/france_lepen_dc_1
http://www.nytimes.com/2006/05/01/world/europe/01cnd-france.html

Le Pen is saying that if he doesn't win the next election it is because his opponents are copying his manifesto on immigration.

He is right.

1.5.06

Fly me to the moon... but not with a French


Don't ask me why this misfortune, but I happened to meet two of my French colleagues at one airport outside of France.

I didn't want to sit with them, but then one of the French, She, told the guy at the check-in desk: "We three want to sit together, and by the way, give the isle seat to me" (I wanted that seat!!!), the other French swiftly said: "And I want the window".

The plane was delayed 45 minutes, the French She started to curse and argue with the airline guy (like if he cared about her problems!). Then, She had a great idea: Going to the airline's VIP lounge and demand that we were allowed in as a compensation for the delay, but the VIP lounge's receptionist could not believe what she was hearing and informed us that access was only allowed to First Class ticket holders, but then She gave her a speech on the responsibilities of the airline towards its valued customers and blah blah blah (like if in France they were familiar with the concept...).

Finally, I was forced to have a coffee with these two French and even participate (nodding) of a conversation that included the following subjects: Americans are idiots, the government has to guarantee their jobs, there are too many inmigrants in France, French wine is the best, and a lot of gossip about our colleagues.

When we got on the plane, I found that I was in between these two French. As there was no space for our luggage on the overhead compartment, the French She and I went to another seat's and placed our bags in there. But then one guy came saying that those were his seat and his compartment. I could not believe the guy was so rude, taking into account that he didn't seem to be French. Anyways, I spent the rest of the flight standing his bloody look, that he directed to me every 10 minutes. I was wondering why he was so annoyed.

We landed and went to take our bags (the French She didn't want to come, but she warned me that that guy was an idiot). The guy was staring at me, and I addressed his anger by saying: "Look, there was no other place for our bags, OK? So, save your anger". And the guy said: "I understand, but YOUR WOMAN was extremely rude to me!"... And then, all of a sudden I understood: While I was placing the bags on the overhead compartment, the French She probably told him something or said something or did something with the typical French arrogance and selfishness that was for sure disrespectful to the guy.

Here was my double humiliation: 1) That I co-operated with a French idiot, and 2) That some victim thought I was French (or that, at least, the French was MY WOMAN).